One of the country’s premier wildlife-viewing areas that is located on the banks of the Zambezi River in the south-eastern part of Zambia, Mana Pools National Park, the Lower Zambezi National Park occupies 4092 m², with 120 kms of river frontage. Its distinguishing features are the rugged escarpment to the north, the river itself, and its numerous islands, lagoons and floodplains which attract most of the Zambian wildlife
The Lower Zambezi National Park (LZNP) was established in 1983. It’s the Zambia’s newest park. It covers a land surface of 4,092 square kilometres with 120 kilometres of Zambezi River frontage. The first European to explore the area of the Lower Zambezi National Park was the famous explorer Dr David Livingstone. The Cumings family that own and operate the Chiawa Camp brought the first tourists into the park in 1990. Over the last thirty years, very little development has taken place in the national park, making accessing the park and moving around in the park very difficult.
The Lower Zambezi National Park lies in the scenic river valley between rolling hills of a hazy escarpment and the mighty Zambezi River. On this remote section, the river has calmed down after its hectic journey over the Victoria Falls and through the Kariba Dam, and now flows calmly but insistently towards Mozambique and the sea. The river acts as the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe and on the south bank opposite the Lower Zambezi National Park, is Zimbabwe’s equally wild Mana Pools National Park.
The park has three main habitats: the riverbanks overhung with a thick fringe of foliage and large mahogany acacia and ‘upside down’ baobab trees; inland floodplains lined with mopane forest and interspersed with winter thorn trees and reed islands harbouring a myriad of wildlife; escarpment hills covered in broadleaf woodland. The park covers a wide area but the escarpment acts as a kind of barrier keeping most animals in the bottom of the valley. This park is so beautiful that it is hard to know which to admire more, the scenery or the animals.
Giant populations of large mammals, including elephants, lions, buffalo and leopards are easily viewed here. This area short of a crocodile or hippo, too. And whilst I can’t claim to be the most avid birder (unless it’s a chicken or turkey with all the trimmings), the mix of ground hornbills, rollers and eagles even had me salivating.
Boating safaris are offered by all the lodges in the park; and are a perfect way to see the wildlife from a totally different perspective. A boat trip up the river is a real treat; the boat is able to drift up almost silently to feeding elephant, buffalo and even the predators as they come down to drink.
The Lower Zambezi is simply jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Its furry, leathery and feathered inhabitants are all housed in the most spectacular amphitheatre imaginable. The Mopane forest that hugs meandering river systems, which spill into the Zambezi. Palm trees, baobabs, acacias, and Machiavellian strangler figs.
More than 350 bird species have been recorded in the Zambezi Valley and is an excellent birding destination year-round.
The entry point into Lower Zambezi National Park by flight in the Kenneth Kaunda International Airport. Upon arrival at Lusaka, guests will be directly chartered to the Chiawa Game Management Area suitably positioned in the interior Lower Zambezi.
The drive from Lusaka to Chirundu takes approximately 2 hours. The last stretch is still badly potholed, so caution is advised. The gravel road from Chirundu takes one to the newly constructed bridge over the Kafue River. The road up to Chieftainess Chiawa’s village is good gravel and one can gain entrance to many of the lodges from this road. From here on, the road deteriorates and a 4 x 4 is essential. Visitors on an tourAfrika safari will be chartered directly to the park, from where they will be transported privately to their lodge.
Weather & Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit the Lower Zambezi National Park is from June to October and this is the dry season. The park is easily accessible during the dry season. During the rainy season some lodges are shut due to unreachability. The dry conditions create easy viewing of wildlife as vegetation is less thick. The cloudless skies are also impeccable for stargazing. Fishing is fantastic in September and October.
The park is exceptionally beautiful during the rainy season as it is roofed with blossoming vegetation, flora and flowers. This period is very attractive for birders as the vibrancy of a host birdlife is stage indeed. The valleys are populated with a collection of new-born antelope. The heat and humidity can be intense during the rainy season.
Lower Zambezi is situated within a high malaria risk area, and anti-malaria safeguards ought to be consulted with your personal medical practitioner when you are scheduling your tour to Southern Africa. Further than that, make sure that all your regular vaccinations are up to date.
Health & Safety
The Lower Zambezi is isolated and therefore this setting makes it very intimate and of personal nature. Crime is a rare occurrence and appropriate action may be taken should you sense the need to secure your valuables.
At hand is something exceptional in the “Lower Zambezi” as you glide down on the Zambezi river, drink in hand, the sun slipping undoubtedly at the back of the Zambian ridge whilst viewing hippo, elephant, hippo and several others go about their late afternoon routines.
In season, an afternoon stopover to the carmine bee eater colony will not be overlooked and viewing wildlife from the water offers you a different perception on their conduct and permits for distinctive photographic possibilities.
Suitable 4×4 safari vehicles are utilized to perform game drives in the Lower Zambezi National Park and a magnificent activity at close proximity to bulky wildlife like lion, leopard and buffalo to cover a few. As the afternoon begins to fuse into evening, so the night-time wildlife emerges from the covers of the bush and animals like civets, porcupine, and leopard can be noticed using the spotlight. Leopard are found reasonable numbers in the Lower Zambezi National Park and the park extends superb visibility, particularly as the season becomes drier.
Canoeing safaris are catered to adventure seekers wishing to undergo a unique canoeing experience combined with wildlife viewing at its best. Canoeing offers a superb, quiet way of approaching wildlife. The trips are led by professional guides through and along the banks of the Lower Zambezi National Park in Zambia.
The Chifungulu channel in particular is lovely experience and is a must for keen photographers and birders. Both the morning and afternoon activity sessions are great for a canoe safari.
The Lower Zambezi is at best from a fishing perception from September through to early December with April being a good month as well. Even though fish can be caught right through the year, these are the favoured months when the water is nice and warm.
The Lower Zambezi National Park offers excellent, tailor-made walking safaris in the company of expert guides. Immerse yourself in the park’s diverse habitats, stopping to learn about the fascinating flora and smaller creatures along the way. Scour the trees in search of birds and sit silently as you view larger animals, marvelling at the opportunity to reconnect with nature a safe distance away.
Where else can you sit in ankle deep water on a sandbar in the Zambezi River and enjoy a fabulous lunch under a marquee with a Zambezi cocktail in hand? There are hippos in the deep water to your left, elephants on the island to the right and you perfectly at one with the whole system in the middle – perfectly safe.
Or what about a bush dinner – arriving after a game drive at a roaring bonfire with tables lit by candles for you to enjoy a delicious 3 course meal paired with a warm smoky red wine and listen to the animals and birds creating the night ambience. They are not just meals – they are memories.
Are the roads paved?
Unlike other national or private parks, this one has no paved roads.
How many elephants are in the herds?
The herds are massive, some hosting up to 100 elephants.
What makes the Park so unique?
The Lower Zambezi National Park offers a unique combination riverine, fishing and wildlife safaris in Zambia.
Are the camps fenced?
No, there are no fences around the camp and dangerous animals do roam freely through the camp at any time of the day – armed and highly qualified rangers will take care of you and will accompany you between buildings when its dark.
Are there any medical precautions that I would need to take?
There is malaria in the area, it is advisable you consult with a medical practitioner before you travel to Zambia.
Do the elephants really swim?
Yes, elephants do swim. It may seem incredible that an animal weighing up to 6 tons can swim, but they do. And they seem to enjoy it, too.
Is there electricity?
There is 24-hour electricity available, and lodges use British round 3 prong plug points.
65 Casa Bella, 247 Sullivan Street, Centurion, Pretoria,South Africa, 0157
Mon – Fri 08.00 – 17.00
Sat – Sun 08h00 – 13h00